Monday, April 23, 2018

Featured autographs - one time Angels

For my Angels all-time autograph collection I like the idea of picking up random autograph cards [pack pulled or not] of players who played for the team at some point in their careers - it gives me an opportunity to scrutinize bottom of the barrel certified autographs and consider grabbing them if they picture a current or former Angel, particularly someone otherwise unfamiliar and/or whose autograph I don't have.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Bat Blog Around: My All Autograph Team

I've leaned towards being more of an in-person / through the mail autograph collector than strictly collecting cards, so this newest Bat Blog Around was something I wanted to take part in - I may or may not have better autographs for each position, but I basically went through older blog post posts to see if I can build up a lineup.

1B Rod Carew

2B Ryne Sandberg - I always thought he was the best second baseman of all time, though he starred when I first started getting into collecting and I was oblivious about other greats like Joe Morgan or Rogers Hornsby.

3B Albert Pujols - had to squeeze the guy featured on the Blog Bat Around header somewhere.

SS Maury Wills - I went with a player who made an impact when he first burst into the scene, a vintage player with a unique looking, embossed retro card from the 1990s.

OF Albert Belle - he was a fun player to watch because he was simply nuts and despite his issues, I have to give him his due.

OF Mike Trout - as is, I ride or die with this guy, regardless of how big the spotlight is on him these days.

OF Bryce Harper - he's the most intimidating batter in all of MLB.

With brutish strength to hit the ball 500 feet - he always looks like someone ran over his dog or something.

C Buster Posey

SP Justin Verlander

DH/PH Shohei Ohtani - the expectations are so big for him, but he's 23 and he'll have his share of growing pains.

CL Mariano Rivera

RP Sparky Lyle - I didn't know much about Lyle, except I needed him for my award winners collection, but he was a do it all reliever who collected 238 saves in his playing career.

RP Goose Gossage - I can just imagine Gossage and Rivera co-existing in the same bullpen, with Gossage mostly talking Rivera's head off about how he was the more valuable late inning reliever.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Shohei Ohtani 2018 Topps Now pickups

Save for any autograph or limited parallels offered, I've picked up Ohtani's Topps Now cards from the past two weeks, including both versions [English and Japanese Kanji] of his first MLB hit card - as you read this I've probably put an order for likely another Topps Now card, noting his first MLB triple, which drove in 3 RBI.

It's pretty special to see Ohtani living up to the hype, rather than falling flat on his face and I'm just enjoying the ride as generally a fan of his MLB team - I think I tend to think about 'the next' [once in a generation talent to emerge] if the current best player in the planet has gotten too big time [like a music band that explodes through mainstream consciousness and is viewed as having sold out in a sense].

Over the last 15-20 years, maybe Albert Pujols was considered best player, then Bryce Harper was supposed to be the guy, then Mike Trout has been the guy for the last 6 years - point is someone like Ohtani is out there as someone with a chance to be a unique talent on their own to fawn over and speculate about as a new favorite.

Ohtani has gotten through his first couple of weeks in Major League Baseball with flying colors, but it's still two starts on the mound and a 26 at-bats as a batter - I want to still see how far he'll go and maybe there is a fear that he might be overused and gassed as the season wears on.

As far as collecting Ohtani cards, I don't know if I'm going to keep up with the Topps Now business past April - however as long as Ohtani is providing highlights, there is something about having an opportunity to grab new and unique MLB licensed Ohtani cards to feed the beast with chasing unopened products, looking for miscellaneous Ohtani cards.

There will probably be a number of pack pulled [likely non auto'd parallels] Ohtani cards I'd like to pick up in his rookie year - but without thinking too much about it, the Topps Now cards should continue to be no brainer purchases.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Beyond the glory addition - Don Wilson

I didn't know who Wilson was until I probably stumbled upon a YouTube video of him pitching in the 1971 MLB All-Star Game - as much as I think I soak up baseball history like a sponge, my focus when talking about old-school [pre 1980] and vintage [pre 1974] players are mostly devoted to the legends / icons.

Wilson may have starred for the Houston Astros, compiling a 104-92 won-loss record in 9 seasons with the team - but due to a fatal accident in his car, he never did build on the promise he had shown at various points of his career.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Beyond the glory addition - Bob Moose

Rummaging through the old-school / vintage quarter box at my card shop, I picked a 1974 Topps card [#382] featuring a player with seemingly funny looking hair - go figure, I don't have a mini-collection devoted to hair styles, so maybe I could add this to my facial hair collection.

After finding out more about Moose through this Card Corner feature on the Baseball Hall of Fame Website, I decided to add his card to my beyond the glory mini-collection - there is kind of a cross over with my infamous mini-collection but my beyond the glory mini-collection is more inspired by professional athletes who may have had a narrative attached to their playing careers besides just making some mistakes and getting in the news for it.

A card of notable professional athlete who prematurely loses their life is added into this collection - maybe someone who passes while still being an active player or someone who passes in a somewhat of an odd set of circumstances.

I learned Moose threw the wild pitch that led to the series ending run in the 1972 National League Championship Series - a successful MLB pitcher otherwise, he passed away at 29 due to a car accident.

Monday, April 09, 2018

1997 Score Blast Master Tim Salmon #18

I figure there just hasn't been much to talk about with the Angels the past week or so and I'd feature this random insert I picked up - I was watching a replay of a YouTube live broadcast featuring a collector showing off his player pick-ups and spotted a card from an insert set I've never heard of.

I liked how the card popped, so off to COMC I went, where I didn't want to pick up the same card the collector did - but for a dollar, I was able to add a card from the set, featuring a regional favorite.

Friday, April 06, 2018

2018 Donruss 60 card hanger box

On a whim, I bought one of these from a Target - I like the 1984 themed retro cards though it's just hard to appreciate baseball cards with no team logos.

I like the variations because they give me something extra to look for - though from my understanding, they aren't that much harder to pull than any other cards.

#139 Orlando Arcia
#70 Jean Segura
#99 Michael Brantley
#220 Leaders in L.A. - feat. Kershaw / Seager
#127 Yu Darvish

#67 Xander Bogaerts
#95 Odubel Herrera
#121 Ryon Healy
#201 Rookie Stars - feat. Judge / Frazier
#56 Freddie Freeman
#102 Nelson Cruz
#129 Alex Wood
#72 Brian Dozier
#113 Madison Bumgarner
#205 K.C. Masterpiece - feat. Hosmer / Cain
#53 Zack Greinke
#81 Logan Morrison
#107 Jonathan Gray
#133 Dee Gordon
#75 Jake Arrieta
#21 Odubel Herrera - Stat Line serial #’d 238/344

#172 Nolan Arenado - Holo Green parallel
#263 Matt Carpenter - Holo Green parallel
#154 Clayton Kershaw - Holo Green parallel
#242 Mike Trout - Holo Green parallel
#181 Chris Archer - Holo Green parallel

#123 Rod Carew - variation, black and white photo
#254 Mickey Mantle - variation, wearing cap
#3 Evan Longoria

#163 Kris Bryant - variation, Sepia ‘KB’

#153 Corey Kluber - variation, Klubot
#17 Brian Dozier
#39 Ryan McMahon
#69 Jackie Bradley Jr. - variation, ‘JB’
#166 Jose Altuve - variation, ‘Tuve’
#15 Justin Bour
#37 Amed Rosario
#134 Marcell Ozuna
#197 Ryan Zimmerman
#179 Evan Longoria
#240 George Springer - 1984
#152 Jordan Montgomery
#261 Robinson Cano - 1984
#170 Kyle Seager

#231 Joey Votto - 1984
#141 Anthony Rizzo
#183 Kris Bryant
#245 Corey Seager - 1984
#158 Corey Seager
#191 Mookie Betts

#226 Mookie Betts - 1984
#164 Dallas Keuchel
#247 Ryan Braun - 1984

#244 Clayton Kershaw - 1984
#156 Miguel Cabrera
#265 Evan Longoria - 1984
#174 Felix Hernandez
#234 Francisco Lindor - 1984
#150 Gary Sanchez

#259 Madison Bumgarner - 1984

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

TTM autographs received: Carl Erskine

The 91-year old signed my trading cards in blue Sharpie and responded to my letter in about three months - there is something peculiar about sending an autograph request to someone who is closer to 100 years old than 25, because I wonder how someone so old can actually go get all the mail sent to them and manage to respond back to each of the senders.

I would assume, depending on how able they still are function - someone notable to still write to already their 70s, 80s or 90s, do have some help in answering mail.

After sending out to Erskine on January with a donation he generally requires - I was expecting about to see a response back in two or three weeks, but was worried when there was no response.

Erskine became a 'scratch the itch' guy for me because he has had a reputation for being a great TTM signer - I wanted to see if I could get ink on some loose cards I had of his.

However word got out through Facebook and the SCN message boards, that Erskine apparently had lost the ability to use his hands - which obviously prevented him from answering requests sent to him in the meantime.

According to the note that was posted, Erskine would wait a bit until things got better or he would mark the mail sent to him as return to senders - I was wondering if Erskine would be able to sign again and was relieved I saw a couple of successes within the past week or so.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Old school adds for my nations collections

I was flipping through a stash of cards at my LCS and I found at least four guys who I assumed where born in different places other than the United States - I don't particularly know who they are, but I saw their cards as finds to help me work towards towards my goal of 100 old-school / vintage adds to my 25-30 mini-collections.

I want as many subjects represented from nations that have spawned professional baseball players - though I wonder if really care to have every player, past, present and future [do I have the resources to have and/or grab their cards]?

I'm probably never going to get everyone's card and it's not like I have a link to one particular nation - maybe it feels weird to be hunting for cards of guys whose language I do not speak, whose culture and life experiences differ from mine and at times seem really worlds apart besides me seeing them as professional baseball players.

As a baseball fan, I do realize players born in different nations continue to make a significant impact in pro baseball - in my own little way, I want to chronicle the contributions of players from all over the world, particularly players who have reached the big leagues to have a card made of them.

1970 Topps Hector Torres #272 - Mexico

1974 Topps Pedro Garcia #142 - Puerto Rico

1975 Topps Ramon Hernandez #224 - Puerto Rico

1975 Topps Eduardo Rodriguez #582 - Puerto Rico

Friday, March 30, 2018

On the topic of my infamous mini-collection

I picked up a 1975 Topps Mini John Milner #264 off the quarter bin scrap heap - it's kind of pretty looking, but an otherwise nondescript piece of cardboard of a rank and file ballplayer who made his MLB debut in the early 1970s and played through 1982.

Stumbling upon Milner on the internets, I learned he testified about his drug use in the Pittsburgh drug trials of the mid 1980s - Milner also threw some shade at icon Willie Mays for having amphetamines ["red juice'] at his disposal.

I didn't know much about Milner, but after everything was said and done, maybe Milner was more of a sympathetic figure who just got up in the times - but I had to add his card to my rather dubious mini-collections.

Maybe there hasn’t been as much emphasis to seek out cards of guys who’ve done some bonehead things [either on the field or off the field] - since I don’t want to glorify or endorse bad behavior, especially the more serious, morbid and fatal offenses like sexual harassment, rape and murder.

However, pro athletes are my ‘celebrities’ to 'gossip about' and this mini-collection was probably inspired by Jim Rome’s radio show [from the early 1990s through early 2000s] - when he’d mock all sorts of pro athletes [he loved to ridicule and pick apart the black eyes] who messed up.

With Twitter and other social media, everyone has to insert themselves into someone’s controversy / drama and it’s kind of depressing reading all the instantaneous hot takes - it’s all overkill and it’s not shocking anymore when professional athletes are arrested, sharing pizza in a hotel room, caught for a DUI, shoplifting, blackballed for a number of things, et al.

Cards of presumed offenders will still be added, but there is the caveat that it’s all negative and while I don’t want to sugarcoat things - having a card for ‘ha, ha’ value doesn’t really put my collection in a positive light or make it particularly better [even if it’s all kind of superficial at best].

Thursday, March 29, 2018

2018 Topps Living Set Shohei Ohtani #7

I think heard about this new Topps product in the past couple of weeks and I don't really get how this set is supposed to come together - I think collectors want something that can be tied to a particular set with beginning and a definite ending.

If I was a set collector, team collector or player collector, I would want closure as far as knocking off specific cards from a set checklist in a given year - not something that is going to meander for years to come, without an apparent finish line to cross.

The 1953 Topps inspired design is fine, but why did Topps need to recycle another 'retro' style as opposed to using something original and fresh for something design with a living set in mind [?] - the old-time design was probably decided upon to appeal to collectors' familiarity with Heritage and Archives, though it's been 65 years since the original issue 1953 Topps cards came out.

Go figure, it wasn't too hard of decision to pick up an Ohtani single for about $5 and I see this card as kind of a unique issue - at least something I can't pull out of a pack from a Target or card shop.

Besides his terrible spring outings as a hitter and a pitcher, I believe Ohtani's immense talent will play out - he collected his first big league hit on Opening Day and it would be nice if he does something with the bat in the next couple of games, then showcases his pitching talent on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Two adds for the bloodlines collection

I made a cameo at my LCS to raid the quarter boxes for any newer cards to flip through like 2018 Donruss baseball but no dice on that - so I ended up rummaging around for some loose cards as well as picking up packs of penny sleeves and a cardboard box.

1975 Topps Rookie Pitchers #615 - feat. Pat Darcy, Dennis Leonard, Tom Underwood and Hank Webb; this card will count as a bloodlines collection add with Webb being the father of big leaguer Ryan, but Underwood [R.I.P.] was also the brother of former MLB pitcher Pat and the father of one time Dodgers minor leaguer J.D. Underwood...this card could be a beyond the glory card for Darcy, who served up Carlton Fisk’s home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

Leonard had the most success out of the four guys on this card but after being a front line starter for the Kansas City Royals - a knee injury derailed the latter part of his career; I’d put him in the beyond the glory mini-collection, though I know I have a card of his somewhere, so this card wouldn't be a 2018 add for him.

2017 Panini Score football Kiko Alonso #6 - this is where I feel my mini-collections can get really esoteric at times.

I had a Bowman Draft card of one-time pro baseball player Carlos Alonso and I looked him up just to see if he was still playing - Carlos washed out after parts of 7 minor league seasons, but I saw he had a brother [Kiko] who plays in the NFL.

It wasn't a priority - but when I stumbled upon a random base card of Kiko, I had to pick it up so I had a card for each brother.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Bat Blog Around - various card collecting projects

This is a list of the trading card projects I work on that are my priorities - there really isn't a day where I don't look through collecting forums and/or blogs or look something up on eBay, but because it's a hobby I enjoy only by myself, interest in playing with my actual cards is something that wanes from time to time. 

Having an opportunity to spell some things out for about the 500th time and go over my various trading card projects in somewhat of a 'show and tell' setting - gives me some hope, where I don't feel like collecting is strictly all for nothing. 

Main projects

1. Personal collection cards - I once read a blog post lamenting the absurdity of having a PC, but it’s about having a collection of centerpiece cards [due to value and/or sentiment] as opposed to merely hoarding all sorts of miscellaneous cards [and never really evolving and/or getting more sophisticated, regardless of what I may actually put in my PC].

There was a movement to reboot my PCs starting in November 2016, where I’ve wanted to make my collections a bit more well rounded - by adding certain pickups like miscellaneous rookie cards like the Clemens pictured, weeding out certain cards, re-ranking the order in a Google Sheets file I created and then physically rearranging my cards. 

Maybe my PCs are always going to be kind of ‘all over the place’ and thin all-around between the varying degrees of quality, years, types, subjects, et al - if nothing else, I want to have a good, representative collection of cards I can pull out and have a good look at once in awhile.

2. Regional collections - I'm trying to corral what I have in an order that makes sense even though I don't see myself as a comprehensive team collector as far as picking up all cards from a specific team year by year, card by card, product to product.  

A.) Personal collection cards - it’s a work in progress and I kind of want to mimic what I've tried to do with my main PC, where I've tweaked and rebooted parts of my collection so it doesn't feel as random.

B.) All-time autograph collection - this is basically trying to count out and list all the autographs [IP/TTM/certified/purchased] in my collection; the goal is to get as many different players as I can; though completion isn't realistic, I'll live with 'highlights' I know I have in my collection, while adding fillers along the way, even if I'm missing some obscure and likely 'impossible' autographs to get for one reason or the other.

C.) A-Z singles / A-Z inserts collections - it’s a work in progress to account for notable, yet to miscellaneous team related cards.

A-Z singles - means my collection of notable pulls, finds and purchases that 'maybe worth something' like prospect cards or parallels of team stars that may not really be worth much at all, but are fits in my regional collection. 

A-Z inserts means any pulls, finds and purchases that are probably not worth much - yet are still a little more unique than base cards.  

D.) Loose card projects - anything that doesn't fit as a PC, as part of my all-time autograph collection, that can't be slotted as an A-Z singles or A-Z inserts additions.

Binder stars - I guess I've made it where I've set aside cards of selected players to put in a book; hard to deal with prominent players who have spent time with other teams, but I try to collect as many cards for guys who have played for my team. 

Frankenset - this collection basically serves to showcase at least 500 random Angels cards by numerical order; I'm kind of surprised there seems to be Angels cards to count 1-500, though I'm still missing 60 assorted, random cards to complete the first 500.   

Opening Day Starters- maybe inspired by at least a card blogger or two, maybe I want to put together a collection of cards to showcase a team's Opening Day lineup.

Maybe my Angels cards are just kind of 'loose' all around with a mash-up of cards - so like my Angels frankenset project, my goal is really to use up much of my base and ‘lesser’ insert cards for something relevant.

Organize by year in the following order - 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, CF, RF, SS, C, P and DH [if applicable].

Shoebox - as part of my team boxes spelled out below.

3. Collecting topics aka mini collection cards - I’d like to think my mini-collections is my centerpiece collecting project where I could just do my own thing.

Maybe the main reason for these collections is to be a card geek - trying to keep up with ‘trivia’ as well as hunting cards that ‘pop’ with some personality, even if they are all common and/or otherwise forgotten.

I may have 25-30 'official' ones and 5-10 'unofficial' ones - I probably was influenced by the baseball cards subsets of their early 1990s [1992 Upper Deck - Bloodlines, 1992 Pinnacle - Shades, Grips, Donruss Triple Play - awesome action] as well as being bored and trying to see if collecting random cards for the heck of it, to put in one specific mini-collection category was viable.  

My yearly goal is to add 500 'new' collecting topics cards I say yes to adding one more card that can possibly count toward a mini-collection, no matter how esoteric.

4. Award winners collection - the purpose of this collection is to round up and to showcase MLB award winners [Most Valuable Players, Cy Young and Rookie of the year] through baseball cards.

Between base cards, parallels, retro cards, vintage cards, memorabilia / certified autograph cards, in-person/TTM autographs - this is kind of a frankenset project for me where things are mixed up.

The most important aspect of all the wrinkles within this collection is the cards used are era [retro cards are actually OK] and team appropriate - with some exceptions that I’ll chalk up to ‘not worth worrying about.’ 

5. A-Z singles - I need to maintain upkeep of my collection of notable pulls, finds and purchases that 'maybe worth something' but may not really be worth much at all and may not fit any of my collections. 

6. IP/TTM autographs - I don't get to do it as much, but it's not entirely out of my system and I feel I can still get subjects to scribble on trading cards or what I'd call my 'claptrap of junk' I lug with me to spots where I presume I'll see someone worth looking to get an autograph from. 

Side projects

This is more of a list of the trading card collections I may work on from time to time - but perhaps a little unfocused or seem a little vague.

1. Topps year-to-year run [1978-present] - though the run doesn't exactly go back to the 'vintage years' of the 50s, 60s and early 70s, I'm looking to get at least one regular issue Topps card each year for the teams that were in existence in 1978 through present.

Obviously for the expansion teams that have sprung up since, including the Miami Marlins, Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays - will only have Topps cards starting from the teams' first seasons in Major League Baseball.

2. Inserts - I'm trying to make it so there is a system for listing and putting away assorted pulls, finds and purchases.

I have my inserts in binders but because it maybe easier to access my inserts when I need to add new cards to the collection - there maybe a push move my inserts to boxes and put a mini-collection in a binder or at least have more pages for my assorted decade, binder stars.

3. Decade / binder stars - these consist of the base cards and common inserts / parallels I’ve pulled from various breaks or have found through other means; I sort all the cards I have by player in ABC order, by decade the players made their debuts.

This collection isn’t something I'll go through on a regular basis but once in a while - it's fun to see how many assorted cards I have for players in a binder, from the national stars I followed to everyone else.

4. Team boxes - this collection is a smorgasbord of cards sorted by team, so I can flip through them as a casual collection; at the moment, I have a shoe box for my American League cards and a plastic card box for my National League cards.

Maybe there is kind of a ritual to build up the boxes bit-by-bit - then maybe spending a couple of hours at a time going through the cards to see what I have, to be able to add and subtract.

Nothing is permanent and I weed cards from this collection from time to time for various 'needs' like rediscovering mini-collection cards or a card for an active player involved in a transaction - I try to keep in mind at least 10-15 'anchor' players for a particular team, whose cards I'll look to add to make the individual teams more well rounded.

These collections can include cards of prominent stars, postseason heroes [if applicable], other players from championship teams - players who may have passed in more tragic situations than natural ones, long retired stars, etc.

Having these team boxes maybe a response to repack breaks over the years where rather than just putting all the crap I'm flipping through into my A-Z archives - I decided to put together a team collection of cards to see what I can come up with.

5. More loose card projects - these are the various ways that help me sort of bide my time and milk out a unique card collecting experience since I do end up enjoying rummaging through cards as long as there is more cardboard to look at it.

As is, I’m juggling multiple things, trying to push multiple buttons as a process to cobble together up random cards and to put them into specialized themes - these projects keeps me involved in collecting in a fun, if simplistic sort of way.  

Milestone numbers - 500 home runs, 3,000 hits, 300 wins, 3,000 strikeouts

Hall of Famers - inspired by a card blogger or two, a card for each member of the Hall of Fame as I stumble upon them.

Transactions - I look at 365 days a year, so perhaps it shouldn't matter, but I'd still like to keep a 'Rolodex' of about a 100 or so random cards to reflect a particular year's [in-season, off-season through the end of spring training] moves.

School ties - a random assortment of cards from notable pros in multiple sports, from a selected number of California colleges.

This collection isn't meant to be comprehensive, but a collection of cards from schools I've heard about with good athletic programs - Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, UCLA, USC, Stanford and Cal.